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EDH residents vying for LLS’ coveted titles

By From page A1 | June 07, 2017

Sheri Moemeni and Clay Covington of El Dorado Hills are candidates in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s 2017 Man & Woman of the Year campaign. More than winning the title, they hope to help fund a cure for blood cancer. Courtesy photo

SACRAMENTO — Clay Covington and Sheri Moemeni, both residents of El Dorado Hills, are campaigning for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s titles of Man and Woman of the Year.

The 10-week campaign, a local/national fundraiser for blood cancer research and patient services, kicked off April 8 with a celebration at the new Patriot Event Center in Sacramento. Covington and Moemeni are among nine candidates — all business and community leaders from throughout the Greater Sacramento Area — who hope to be the top male and female fundraisers in the competition and exceed this year’s goal of $500,000.

Covington and Moemeni had not met before they entered the Man and Woman of the Year campaign, and if it weren’t for their personal commitment to finding a cure for cancer their paths may never have crossed. Covington is vice president of Sales with Galleher Corporation, a national floor covering distributor with 18 offices in California, Arizona and Nevada. His connection with blood cancer happened long ago and very unexpectedly when he was a college student at Chico State. At that time, his 19-year-old friend and fraternity brother Bobby Dean was diagnosed with leukemia and succumbed to the disease.

This terrible loss was followed 30 years later when Covington’s father was also diagnosed with leukemia. Advances in treatment allowed his father to survive for five years to the age of 80. More recently, the disease struck a close friend of the Covington family — a freshman in high school. Fortunately, this story has a happy outcome with the young woman surviving, thriving, graduating and going off to college. Though Covington had been supporting LLS for years along with the Chico Betas in honor of Bobby Dean, he thought this was the year he had to step up by running for Man of the Year.

“Curing blood cancer is all about research, and I believe we are getting closer all the time,” said Covington. “Because of the research that LLS has conducted, the survival rate of children diagnosed with leukemia has gone from 3 percent in 1964 to over 90 percent today. That’s amazing. My father lived for three years rather comfortably because of life-saving new therapies and my daughter’s friend is a survivor with a great future ahead. I’m hoping that the money I raise for LLS will lead to even greater advances or better yet — a cure.”

Moemeni is the oncology regional sales director at Avella, a specialty pharmacy based in Arizona that is nationally recognized for its clinical knowledge and customer service. For the last 10 years with Avella, Moemeni has devoted herself to helping patients and families who have been touched by cancer. Through her work, patients are able to obtain the best support and resources available to educate themselves on their health conditions and treatment options. She considers this professional opportunity to help a great personal privilege.

By working with patients, Moemeni has personally seen the toll that their illnesses take physically, emotionally and financially. Access to drug therapy is vital in order for patients to improve their treatment outcomes. Representing Avella, Moemeni helps remove barriers to access by working with many nonprofits, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s patient services program, to provide help in lowering out-of-pocket prescription costs. In 2016 LLS served 118 blood cancer patients in the Greater Sacramento Area and provided $296,000 in co-pay assistance.

Moemeni has long held a passion for serving the community and particularly being an activist in health related causes. In 2010 she became a volunteer with LLS and a candidate for Woman of the Year. Though she didn’t win the title, she remembers the campaign as a memorable experience — one that she has chosen to relive.

“I was very honored to be among an amazing group of business and community leaders when I ran for Woman of the Year seven years ago,” said Moemeni. “Raising funds for a cause that affects so many lives — adults and children — locally and globally is an incredible experience. It is empowering to feel that you are making a difference by getting involved, and I am very excited about campaigning again.

“Being in the pharmaceutical industry, I have seen the advances that have been made in treating blood cancer, and how new drug therapies are allowing patients to not only survive, but to have happy and productive lives,” she continued. “I agree with Clay that it is all about research. There are over a million people in the U.S. alone living with or in remission from blood cancer. Research not only saves lives, it gives back a quality of life. I am hopeful that my second Woman of the Year campaign will make a significant difference in fighting this disease. I’m all in for finding a cure.”

Covington and Moemeni are united in rallying support from friends, colleagues, business and community leaders in their hometown of El Dorado Hills and beyond. Fundraising is without borders, and each of them has reached out and received donations from across the U.S. and abroad. They are inspired by the 2017 Boy & Girl of the Year, 4-year-old Fritz and 11-year-old Emma, who are in treatment or in remission from leukemia. Whether they win their respective title, both said they feel their commitment to the cause is worth much more because as the LLS saying goes: “Everyone wins when cancer loses.”

The 21st Annual Man & Woman of the Year campaign will culminate on June 17 with a black tie Gala Celebration at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento. To learn more about the campaign visit mwoy.org/sac. For information or to make a donation to Covington or Moemeni’s campaign visit their websites: mwoy.org/pages/sac/sac17/ccovington and mwoy.org/pages/sac/sac17/smoemeni.

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